Remote areas, borderlands are priority in 2011: Minister

Remote areas, borderlands are priority in 2011: Minister
The Jakarta Post, 11 January 2011


The Indonesian government will pay more attention to the development of health services for people living in remote areas, borderlands and the country’s islands in 2011, due to the fact that they face more complex health issues than people living in cities, a minister said.

Many Indonesian people living in such areas were still facing difficulties getting adequate health care, Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih said on Monday.

“It’s hard for them to get health care, which could pose big problems in an emergency situation,” she said at a coordination meeting on 2011 National Development.

Endang said many people living in remote areas, borderlands and the country’s islands had to travel long distances to get health care because of the lack of hospitals and healthcare workers such as doctors and specialists. The situation could get worse for those who have serious illnesses.

“It’s time for us to make better efforts in improving healthcare services for Indonesia’s at-risk regions for the sake of our people’s health,” she said.

In his opening speech at the 2011 working meeting, President Yudhoyono praised Indonesia’s latest healthcare achievements that had Indonesia ranked as one of the top-10 movers worldwide thanks to rapid progress in human development over the past four decades, especially in the health, education and income sectors, as measured by the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index.

Despite such achievement, Yudhoyono said, many public services in Indonesia had not been executed well, including those in health and education sectors.

Endang said it was difficult for the government to get and keep health workers in remote areas and borderlands. “Many health workers are reluctant to work in these places,” she said.

On the other hand, many regional administrations poorly allocated adequate health budgets, saying that they had poor local incomes.

“It is not sustainable,” Endang said, adding that the government chose Kalimantan as the first region to be included in the vulnerable regions’ healthcare development program.

“We should focus on Kalimantan since it has extensive border areas, including 200 border-crossing points,” she said.

According to Coordinating Ministry for Public Welfare, the government has arranged various programs to improve healthcare services in vulnerable regions, including the infrastructure development of 450 local hospitals in provincial, regency and municipality levels, the development of 2,000 new village-level community health centers and the infrastructure development for basic health services in 397 regencies and municipalities.

The government would also provide scholarships for 1,040 general practitioners to pursue specialist degrees.

“We will provide flying health care to reach remote areas in several eastern provinces, including Maluku, North Maluku, Papua and West Papua,” said coordinating minister Agung Laksono, adding that the government would renovate 99 existing village health centers and provide 2,445 health workers for remote areas, borderlands and the country’s islands.

Endang said it was important for the government to strengthen the country’s community-based healthcare services and primary health services in 2011 in keeping with its commitment of prevention before cure.

This year the Health Ministry will start a program called Dokter Plus, providing regions a general practitioner equipped with additional skills such as obstetric or pediatric emergency care, especially for eastern part of Indonesia.

East Nusa Tenggara has been chosen as the pilot project of Dokter Plus, assisted by Gadjah Mada University. (ebf)